My Brilliant Career – Kate McCormack

by 11 Nov 2010

What is your current role, and how did it come about?

My current role is director of people, learning & culture at Mercy Health. I commenced with the organisation as the group HR manager in 2001 and was promoted into the HR director position. In 2008 the CEO John Ballard and I discussed that the function actually was broader and needed to reflect what we were trying to deliver into the business. Then together we came up with ‘people, learning and culture’. It really defines the job, even though it’s a long title and everyone gets it wrong!

What qualifications do you hold?

Human Resource Strategy in Transforming Organisations from London Business School, Masters of Business (Industrial Relations/Human Resource Management) from RMIT/University /Grenoble Ecole de Management France, and a Graduate Diploma (Industrial Relations/Human Resource Manager) from RMIT University.

How did you get into HR?

I started in retail in an administration role within HR and loved the work. The rest is history……

What is your career ambition?

I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Professionally it is most definitely my work at Mercy Health in developing and implementing our diversity strategy. It has delivered real and sustainable outcomes for the people that work here and for the organisation in attracting and retaining talented people. I am really proud of it. We were the winner of the Best Workplace Diversity Strategy – HR Leadership Awards 2009.

On a personal level raising our two daughters Madeleine and Isobel. I really hope they enter a different workplace than the one I first did. I want them to achieve whatever life goals they set for themselves.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

To succeed you need determination and to be the ideas person! You need to be prepared to take risks - it’s the only way you can be innovative. In my team there is no bad idea! You need to continually reinvent yourself and keep updated on changes and practices.

What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?

I would like to see graduates combine their HR degree with accounting. In HR, having the ability to read and understand a balance sheet is becoming more important. You need to be able to deliver on a business case and be accountable for the outcomes. That is what sets you apart from the next person!

Describe yourself in three words:

Driven, innovative, passionate (I asked my team!)

Do you have any role models, professionally or personally?

Studying Human Resources Strategy in Transforming Organisations under Professor Lynda Gratton at London Business School has been a career highlight and an honour. I have followed Lynda’s work for many years and to be a part of a global study group led by her was a career best. She makes you think about strategy in a very different way that engages your workforce. I would suggest people read her book ‘Glow’. I give copies to managers here at Mercy Health - she offers simple solutions to complex issues. It’s all about developing relationships!

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